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Whittier ends subsidies for city council candidates

WHITTIER – Starting with next year’s election, Whittier residents interested in running for city council will have to pay a little more out of pocket.

The City Council last week voted 5-0 to stop subsidizing the cost of candidate statements, which the city has traditionally offset up to 60%. Council members are reversing course as they seek ways to trim the city’s budget.

“I think my concern is a couple of issues: one, it’s the optics of the situation,” said Councilman Henry Bouchot. “It’s concerning that we’re up here talking about laying off employees and yet we’re subsidizing politicians.”

The new fee structure will begin with the March 3, 2020 election. Council members Cathy Warner and Josue Alvarado, along with mayor Joe Vinatieri, are up for re-election.

Candidates for District 1 and 3 will be required to pay a $1,200 deposit to cover the cost of a candidate statement. Mayoral candidates will pay a $2,450 deposit.

Candidates will be billed if the actual costs exceed the deposit or receive a refund if the costs are less.

“Everything we do and every dollar we’re spending is being scrutinized and we’re now at a time where the budget has to get tighter,” said Alvarado, who represents District 1. “We don’t have the luxury of certain items that we hold near and dear to our causes in Whittier for us to maintain them long term unless we get a new revenue source. As of right now, there isn’t a new revenue source so we have to start looking at items that can be cut without impacting direct public service to residents.”

Mayor Pro Tem Fernando Dutra said the decision to end the subsidies was easy for him.

“You want to play, you gotta pay. That’s the way it is,” Dutra said. “I don’t think we should be subsidizing any candidates. I think if you want to get in the game, you got to raise the money and do it yourself. That’s the bottom line.”

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